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Hello Brain • Brain Health
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When should I be concerned about my memory?

When should I be concerned about my memory?

It is good to be aware of the signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, in case you are concerned about a friend, family member or yourself. Dementia is not a normal part of aging though, and you may not be worrying needlessly. Read on to find out more.

You stand in the car park looking around; we’ve all been there. Chances are you were not paying enough attention to where you parked in the first place. However, as we age we are more likely to see such lapses in a negative light. Many older adults may fear they may be losing their memory, but the idea that we slide into senility as we age has been shown to be wrong. Our brain may miss a thing or two as we age or be slower, but we are often able to fill in the gaps or compensate. 

A word we often hear is dementia, but this is not a disease or some landmark we must pass as we mature. It is a box full of symptoms, including disturbances in memory, thinking and judgement, that usually get worse as time passes. Alzheimer’s disease is one cause of dementia. As we age, our chances of suffering from dementia do rise, but it only affects 5% of people over 65 years of age.  

Memory loss is a common sign of Alzheimer’s, but it is important to separate out this from run-of-the-mill changes that happen as we age. Mislaying the memories of recent events or experiences is one pointer to Alzheimer’s; another is repeatedly asking for the same details or forgetting significant dates or events. A typical senior moment is forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later. This is not something to worry about. In a similar way, a healthy older gentleman may misplace his keys. His friend with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, however, may look at his keys and wonder what these are for.  

People with Alzheimer’s can find it hard to follow a work plan or work with numbers, so household bills become tricky. This is quite different from a slip up when totting up numbers, which may happen more as we age.  Those with Alzheimer’s may also find daily tasks become a challenge and they may struggle recalling the rules of a favourite game or get muddled while driving to a familiar location. It is also easy to lose track of time, dates or months. If you think you or a loved one is showing signs of Alzheimer’s, it is important to visit your family doctor. The news may not be so bad, as there can be all sorts of reason why people experience temporary memory loss.

I have trouble remembering things, does this mean I am getting dementia?

While it’s important to know when to see your doctor about memory concerns, it’s equally important to know that forgetting someone’s name or where you left your glasses doesn’t necessarily mean that you are getting dementia. Watch this film, made by our friends at freedemliving.com, to learn more.

Illustration: Healthy brain

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